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The Costliest U.S. Metro Areas to Raise a Kid -- and Barely Get By

An NBC News analysis of cost-of-living data pinpoints Nantucket and Dukes Counties off the Massachusetts coast as the priciest place to raise a child.

by Maureen Gavin /
People eat behind Larson's Seafood before walking to the beach to watch the sun set August 7, 2009 in Menemsha, Massachusetts on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Win McNamee / Getty Images file

If you struggle to make ends meet each month, just be thankful you don’t live off the Massachusetts coast.

A two parent, one child household living in Nantucket or Dukes Counties, which include Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Chappaquiddick and other nearby islets, needs to spend $85,163 a year just to get by. And that’s without savings or discretionary spending.

The figures come from an NBC analysis of data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that advocates for economic policies that benefit low- and middle-income workers.

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 People eat behind Larson's Seafood before walking to the beach to watch the sunset on Aug. 7, 2009 in Menemsha, Massachusetts, on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Win McNamee / Getty Images file

The EPI data comes from its family budget calculator, which measures “the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard.”

The calculator adds the cost of necessities like housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and taxes for more than 600 U.S. metropolitan areas to come up with its totals, which can be adjusted by family size.

Living Not-So-Large

02:05

Josh Bivens, director of research and policy at the EPI, told NBC News that housing costs typically “dominate the family budget” in the most expensive American cities, with child care running second for families with young children.

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Commercial rental rates proved to be a fairly reliable indicator of cost of living, Bivens noted.

“If stores have to pay a high rent, that tends to increase the cost of groceries and they pass that on to customers,” he said.

Here are the 10 most expensive metro areas by annual expenditures on necessities, according to the index. (Figures are for a two parent, one child household and do not account for savings or discretionary spending.)

1. Nantucket-Dukes Counties, Massachusetts: $85,163

2. Washington, D.C.: $81,783

3. Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut: $79,496

4. New York City: $78,518

5. Honolulu, Hawaii: $78,423

6. Nassau-Suffolk, New York: $78,301

7. Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia: $78,094

8. San Francisco: $77,819

9. Boston: $77,466

10. Westchester, New York: $75,992

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